Wise ways: Psychologist Dr Dina Glouberman on how to turn your life around

Hitting a difficult patch can actually be a catalyst to change — and it doesn’t matter how old you are, psychologist Dr Dina Glouberman tells Margaret Jennings.

Wise ways: Psychologist Dr Dina Glouberman on how to turn your life around

Hitting a difficult patch can actually be a catalyst to change — and it doesn’t matter how old you are, psychologist Dr Dina Glouberman tells Margaret Jennings.

For any of us who feel that we are stuck in life, that we are too old to carve out new beginnings, or are fearful that time is running out, psychologist and psychotherapist Dr Dina Glouberman says: Never give up hope.

“Whatever age you are, there is always a new beginning; you are not stuck. You are growing and developing. And if you are in trouble and you think ‘That’s the end of things for me’ as I have sometimes felt myself, the trouble itself can be a catalyst that will get you moving,” she tells Feelgood.

“So whether you are feeling good or bad, you are always the same wonderful person, and you can always keep moving — turning a corner to a new reality. That to me is youth — that is what life’s about; it keeps you alive at any age.”

Glouberman, now aged 72, has a newly released book, Into the Woods and Out Again: A Memoir of Love, Madness and Transformation, which is an entertaining, honest and darkly humorous journey through the highs and lows of her life.

It ranges from her spell in a psychiatric ward as a young woman, to her establishment afterwards of the pioneering Skyros Holistic Holidays in Greece (now celebrating its 40th year), and the creation of a therapy and self-help method called Imagework, which has guided her and thousands of clients from being stuck, through transformation and change.

The Imagework technique which she describes in her book as “conscious work with the inner world of the imagination” involves a sensing of our inner wisdom, rather than simply relying on the images of visualisation.

For those worried about ageing, for example, she has used it to do an exercise with them to put themselves into the future five years from now or more, and to look at a positive future and a negative future and see how they got there.

“When I do that exercise — and I’ve done it millions of times with people, the negative future is always achieved by keeping on doing what you are doing right now. So I say ‘OK, what bit of you wants the negative future’ and they say ‘The bit that says, it’s all familiar, I know how to do that, it’s safe.’ So if you keep on doing exactly what you’re doing right now, you will probably end up down the slippery slope where you don’t want to be.

“And to reach the positive future, they always have to decide something and have to discipline themselves around it — it could be external or internal.”

At the same time the therapist points to the wisdom of appreciating each present moment and embracing that creatively, for those of us who feel negative about time running out.

“For me one of the big questions is ‘What gives me joy?’ ” she says. “ Do more of it.

“We have to abolish the negative perspective we have on time. We have a boundary — this [life] isn’t going to go on forever. Enjoy it.”

There’s a difference, she says, between the time limit being negative — ‘oh well I haven’t got long to go, so I might as well give up’ — and the time limit being positive — ‘well there’s boundaries around everything, so I must live life fully within these boundaries.’

Staying youthful involves having a purpose: “I think we all need something creative in our lives — something that you are learning from, establishing, or working on, that gives you a sense of mastery and self esteem, instead of drifting in the old way, because then you lose your sharpness, your joy.”

A mother of two and grandmother of three, Glouberman continues to work as a therapist, trainer, and writer and is just starting a new centre in Southern Italy, and says: “My guiding principles have been not to miss out on life and to find the truth about myself and life, so that has kept me going always. And the other thing was, that whatever I found out I wanted to help other people find too.”

And she’s in a really good place now: “Setting up Skyros [Holidays] was the biggest thing I ever did and that was a young person’s thing to do, but for me now I am definitely happier, I am freer in myself and more in charge of my life; I have a stable centre. And what you see from the book is how much I was up and down in my life — I was very up and down — so really the best is yet to come. I feel really happy about getting old.”

- Into the Woods and Out Again: A Memoir of Love, Madness and Transformation by Dina Glouberman is available now at €11.39. You can find out more about Dina’s courses and workshops at her website www.dinaglouberman.com

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